Ah, another home game, of sorts. I grew up 20 minutes from Bethpage State Park, so it was nice to be back on the friendly shores of Long Island for this year’s PGA Championship at Bethpage black.
The Black Course has a reputation for being a monster, and that’s well-deserved. But I hadn’t been back to the course since 2012, having covered the PGA Tour’s Barclays there that year and, prior to that, the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens. I’d forgotten how damned long it is. And how hilly it is. And how most of the walk is on a continuous sidehill lie. According to my trusty phone, I averaged 12 miles a day on foot, which is about 4 miles more per day than I do at most golf tournaments. It’s a gorgeous course though, and the setting, combined with the, well, boisterous, New York galleries almost made me forget about how much my bones ached at the end of each day. Almost.
Brooks Koepka took home the Wanamaker Trophy an an almost-runaway fashion—that is, it was a runaway until the back nine on the last day when the wind picked up and Brooks decided he wanted to make things interesting by bogeying a bunch of holes in a row. But at least he did it with photogenic flair—with shots like this one out of the rough at 13:
While we’re on the subject of Bethpage Black itself, let me take a few seconds to talk about The Sign. Yes, that sign. That effing sign. “The Black Course is an extremely difficult…” yada, yada, yada… “highly skilled golfers…” yada, yada, yada… Everybody takes a picture of it. The same picture. Of the sign. Just the sign. It’s the perfect Social Media visual—it’s obvious, it’s right in front of your face, and it takes zero thought or creativity to point a phone right at it, make a keystoned (google it, Content Creators), horribly-composed picture of it and giddily post it to let the entire world know where you are.
I swore at the beginning of the week that I wouldn’t go near it—unless I found a way to make a different picture. On Saturday, I was hanging around the starter’s podium making some requisite pictures on the first tee for my client, the PGA of America, when I simply turned around. You see, the sign is attached to a fence. But the sign is also on both sides of the fence. And everybody shoots it from the other side of the fence, because, well, I guess it’s just easier not to look at the other side of the fence, or even wonder what’s over there. And it just so happened that our defending and soon-to-be-repeat champion, Brooks Koepka, and his caddie, Ricky Elliott, were about to head my way. And that resulted in one of my favorite pictures of the week.
Highly skilled golfer that he is, Koepka managed to pull off the win, unleashing what for him, and after the rather, shall we say, dispassionate reactions to his previous three major victories, was a celebration or the ages on the 18th green. Keep on scrolling down for more of my favorites from the week, and thanks as always for visiting. —DC